The religious comeback after Communist atheism

Bezbozhnik_u_stanka_15-1929The Soviet Union and its satellites in Eastern Europe strongly enforced the atheism mandated by Communist ideology.  They promoted atheism by laws, education, and brutal persecution of religious believers.  Schools taught required courses in atheism.

Churches were torn down or converted into movie theaters or (in the case of the Lutheran church in St. Petersburg) swimming pools.  Thousands of pastors were killed or consigned to the Gulags.  I talked with an Estonian who told me that her son once went inside an abandoned church because he was interested in the artwork.  He was warned never to do that again or he wouldn’t be allowed to go to university.

But 25 years ago, Communism collapsed in Russia and Eastern Europe.  Now those regions are arguably more religious than most of the countries of Western Europe.

A study by Pew Research shows the massive failure of Soviet atheism.  In the 18 former-Communist countries surveyed, 86% of the population believe in God.

And yet the temporary loss of a religious history shows.  Most citizens associate religious belief with national identity.  And they aren’t necessarily going to church all that much.

Catholics go to church more than the Orthodox.  But the Orthodox are more conservative morally when it comes to issues like homosexuality.

The Pew study describes religion in the former Communist states as “believing and belonging, without behaving.”

Read about the findings after the jump.

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Anniversaries in 2017

Luther95thesesThe new year will mark some important anniversaries.  The biggest will be the 500th anniversary of Luther’s posting of the 95 theses and thus the beginning of the Reformation.  The significance of that event–not just for theology but for culture, education, socio-economic change, and the overall history of Western civilization–will be intensely debated, especially as October 31 approaches.

Was the Reformation a good thing or a bad thing?  A high point of Christianity or the beginning of its decline?  A recovery of ancient Biblical truth or the beginning of the modern era?  We Lutherans have a special stake in all of this, of course, and we should use this attention as an opportunity to make our message–namely, the Gospel–clear.

After the jump, consider some other important anniversaries in 2017.   [Read more…]

Fidel Castro is dead

CastroFidel Castro died at the age of 90, outlasting most of his Cold War adversaries.  But he lived to see Cuba achieving normalized relations with the United States, something he didn’t seem to completely approve of.  That was the doing of his brother Raul, to whom Fidel surrendered power ten years ago.

Fidel remains a romanticized and idealized figure for some on the left.  (See, for example, the recent case of 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s Castro T-shirt.)  But the Communist dictator was responsible for killing thousands of Cubans, including brutal repression of Christianity.

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Don’t know much about history

A study has found that quite a few young Americans are open to Communism.  And one out of three believe that George W. Bush killed more people that Josef Stalin.  See the specifics here.

Read a report on the findings after the jump, whereupon I will try to explain why this is. [Read more…]

How the KGB created Liberation Theology

Liberation Theology, which teaches that Christianity demands radical social and economic change, is a major movement in modern theology.  It has been especially influential in Latin America where it created alliances between Roman Catholics and Marxist revolutionaries.  Now a former Soviet intelligence agent says that Liberation Theology in its entirety, from its formulation to its promulgation, was a creation of the (atheist) KGB! [Read more…]

The Twelve Principles of Conservatism (from 1960)

I blogged about the death of M. Stanton Evans, one of whose accomplishments was to draft “The Sharon Statement” articulating 12 principles that would serve as rallying points for the conservative movement in the 1960s.  The Intercollegiate Studies Institute has published them in an attractive graphic, which I reproduce after the jump.

Read it and consider:  Are these statements still relevant to today’s issues over fifty years later?  Are they enough to bring together conservatives of different stripes today?   Are there any additional or different issues that need to be addressed for our time?  For example, this says that the major threat to liberty today is communism, and that we must work for victory rather than co-existence over this threat.  Well, that victory was won.  What would be the major threat to liberty today?  Radical Islam?  Big government?  New left wing ideologies?   What other statements would you suggest adding to this list? [Read more…]